Vanish, a Reckitt stain-remover brand, made an award-winning short film about autism

‘Me, My Autism and I,’ directed by Tom Hooper and starring a real family, won Channel 4’s Diversity in Advertising Award for 2023

Published On
Apr 03, 2023
An autistic girl named Ash in the short film 'Me, My Autism and I'

Editor's Pick

This year’s prestigious Channel 4 Diversity in Advertising Award in the U.K. has gone to “Me, My Autism and I,” a short film for Reckitt’s Vanish stain-remover brand from Havas London and director Tom Hooper that shines a light on autism, particularly among girls, who are three times less likely to receive a diagnosis than boys.

Hooper cast an autistic girl as the lead of the almost four-minute film, which also features her real-life family and friends. The action takes place in a single day, as the girl, Ash, navigates challenges at home and at school—with the climactic conflict involving clothing, as the CPG brand reveals its commitment to the issue through a charity called Ambitious About Autism.


In winning the contest, the film earns £1 million worth of commercial advertising airtime across the Channel 4 network. Creatively, Hooper and Havas went into production with a script, but it changed significantly based on the family’s true-life experiences.

“The film was truly a co-production with Ash and the family—I wanted it to be their voice,” Hooper said. “Everything in the film is based on Ash and the family's experience of living with autism. The script was completely rewritten to reflect their lived experience, and we used improvisation on set throughout so that I could capture their voices.” 

Ash had never acted before, aside from a school play, and had never been in front of a camera. “It was so important for me to cast an autistic girl at the center of this film, and ideally a real family,” Hooper said. “I was astonished by Ash and her family. Ash is an extraordinary actress, a unique talent who commands the camera in every frame. Going through the rushes in the edit she was incapable of being false or untruthful.”

Ash, the star of "Me, My Autism and I"

Ash’s mother has a background in stage acting, but her father and sister were also acting for the first time. Her two friends in the school scenes were played by her actual best friends, and were also non-actors.

“As a culture we’ve been going on an important journey about representation and identity. Ash’s brilliance shows the talent that you can unleash by allowing people to tell their own story,” said Hooper.

The film launched last week during World Autism Acceptance Week, ahead of World Autism Awareness Day on Sunday, April 2. The brand tie-in is based on a truth about autism, as well—that for most autistic people, familiar and consistent clothing can help with sensory regulation and provide a source of comfort. The overall goal is to nurture a conversation to broaden public understanding of autism, particularly in girls. 

Ash, the star of "Me, My Autism and I"

“Ash was only diagnosed 18 months ago—the diagnosis took three years,” said Hooper. “Changing the system so that autism in girls can be understood and accepted is so important. Girls are underrepresented in the autism narrative. I hope this film in a small way helps to start to readdress that, by giving Ash and her family their voice.”

The brief for this year’s Diversity In Advertising Award challenged brands to tackle the ongoing lack of authentic portrayal and representation of visible or non-visible disabilities. This is the first time Channel 4 has revisited a theme for the award; improving disabled representation was also the focus 2016’s award, won by candy brand Maltesers for a set of humorous ads in which disabled people told funny stories about their lives.


Apr 03, 2023
Client :
Client :
Agency :
Client :
Ambitious about Autism
Marketing Director :
Cigdem Kurtulus
Head of Media :
Alex Owen
Senior Brand Manager :
Claudia Weston
Xavier Rees
Chief Creative Officer :
Vicki Maguire
Global Executive Creative Director :
Elliot Harris
Creative Director :
Nick Rowland
Senior Creative :
Hollie Iles
Creative :
Sasha Midgley
Creative :
Aly Marx-Blackwell
Global Managing Director :
Tamara Greene
Managing Partner :
Ainhoa Wadsworth
Business Director :
Dom Skuratko
Senior Account Director :
Catherine Martyn
Account Director :
Nicole Burgess
Account Manager :
Irina Patrichi
Executive Strategy Director :
Britt Iversen
Group Strategy Director :
Becky Taylor-Wilkinson
Strategist :
Tom King
Head of Creative Services :
Shaun Musgrove
Head of Production :
Katie Keith
Head of Film :
Louise Bonnar
Senior Film Producer :
Katie Wood
Assistant Film Producer :
Sian O’Halloran
Creative Production Director :
Stefanie Price
Creative Producer :
Kieran Worboys
Creative Producer :
Lucy Farrell
Senior Brand Designer :
Sarah Butler
Senior Designer :
Darta Losane
Conceptual Design :
Morgan Shipley
Senior Business Affairs Manager :
Marta Kisluk
New Business & Consultant :
Charlotte Anderson
Production Company :
Director :
Tom Hooper
Executive Producer :
Lucy Kelly
Executive Producer :
Fergus Brown
Producer :
Molly Pope
Steve Annis
Production Designer :
Robin Brown
Production Manager :
Meghan Young
Production Coordinator :
Sidney Arthur
Production Runner :
Izzy Davis
1st AD :
Chris Kelly
Wardrobe Stylist :
Cynthia Lawrence-John
Makeup Artist :
Sara Bowden
Post Production :
Whitehouse Post
Editor :
Russell Icke
Assistant Editor :
Thomas Sheriff
Head of Production :
Ella Sedgwick
Executive Producer :
Annabel Bennett
Casting Director :
Kharmel Cochrane
Soundtrack Composer :
Peter Raeburn
Producer :
Jay James
Audio Post Production Company :
Sound Engineer :
Sam Ashwell
Head of Production :
Olivia Ray
Post-Production Company :
Company 3
Post-Production Company :
The Post Arm
Colorist :
Simon Elbourne
Post-Production Producer :
Chris Anthony
Post-Production Producer :
Helen Stanley
Post-Production Producer :
Emma Cook
Head Content Creator :
Simon Allinson
Content Producer :
Lauren Allen
Head of Production :
Flo Clive
Lead Editor :
Paul Reson
Integrated Producer :
Phil Sheed
Beatriz Delgado Mena
Commercial Marketing Lead :
Lizzy Phillips
Senior Client Lead :
Zoe Bale
Client Lead :
Joe Robinson
Head of Marketing & Communications :
Marie Ashton
Communications Manager :
Catherine Ferris
Senior Marketing Manager :
Aleksandra Kapuran
Digital Marketing Executive :
Meera Karia
Digital Youth Engagement Manager :
Abi Odell
Corporate New Business Lead :
Eleanor Hull
Media Agency :
Client Partner :
Harley Dhillon
Business Director :
Dara Cafferkey
Planning Director :
Alex Edgerton
Group AV Investment Director :
Cyane Bonnell
Associate AV Director :
Michael Kinsella
OOH & Location Director :
Callum Davidson-Dean
OOH Client Manager :
Jess Stock
PR :
One Green Bean
Head of PR :
Sophie Nicholson
Associate Business Director :
Inder Gill
Senior Account Manager :
Sharnece Bent
Account Executive :
Maryam Tukur
Exhibition Production :
Energy Studios
Senior Account Manager :
Grace Piddock
Production Manager :
Emily Edwards
Designer :
Christian Antonelli
Senior Account Director :
Diana White
Production Director :
Ben Way
Creative Director :
James Edwards

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